Homecoming Fund Raising Event at Umlauf
November 13th 6-9pm
November 16th 6:57am
Open Letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen, the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has called income inequality “one of the most disturbing trends facing the nation.”
National income inequality is a problem that is comprised of many components. House the Homeless views the Federal Minimum Wage as a major component of this problem. We are a nation of 1,000 plus economies, and yet we set a federal wage standard that embraces the concept of one size fits all. At present, it is set at $7.25 per hour. It is so low that a full-time, minimum wage worker cannot get into, and keep, basic rental housing. This is a statement repeated by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in their annual report for the past several years.
We all know that the single most expensive item in the budget of every American (housing) fluctuates across the nation, and it does not cost the same to live in Washington DC as it does to live in Harlington, Texas or Santa Cruz, California, etc. So how appropriate is this one size all fits all approach?
Because of the disparity between what our nation’s minimum wage workers are earning (federally set at $7.25 per hour), and the cost of housing locally, 3.5 million minimum wage workers will experience homelessness again this year. Ms. Yellen, you are correct, “the nation’s identity as a land of opportunity is at stake.”
It is important to realize that these minimum wage workers compromise the base of our socio-economic society. These workers are daycare workers, ditch diggers, cafeteria line workers, theater ticket takers, dry clean workers, porta-potty vacuumers, window washers, restraint workers (McDonalds), retail sales people (WalMart), data key operators, hotel/motel maids, construction laborers, janitors, bank tellers, farm workers, receptionists, nurse aids, poultry processors, agricultural workers, home care aids, garage attendants, car washers, manicurists, elder care aids, security guards, infant care workers, etc. And remarkably, they all have one thing in common; none of these jobs can be out sourced! They are the last bastion of purely home spun, at home American jobs. A person has to be on site to flip the burger and serve the child from the cafeteria line.
It only makes sense that if the stability of our economic structure at its core, is dependent upon the economic stability of these workers, we should do everything we can to stabilize their financial situations. Many businesses are operating under the false assumption that because the pool of minimum wage workers, bolstered by immigration, is basically infinite in scope, that they can continue to use people like tissue paper in less than full-time jobs, and then discard them for easy replacements. This shortsighted approach, as even Henry Ford realized, carried with it a devastating effect that resulted in exorbitant retraining costs of replacement workers.
By indexing the wage of the local cost of housing in areas about the size of counties referred to as Fair Market Rent areas by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, we ensure that if a person puts in 40 units of work, they will be able to afford basic rental housing (an efficiency apartment) including utilities, wherever that work is done throughout the United States.
In this fashion, we end economic homelessness for all people desirous and able to work and enable them to put a roof over their own heads, other than a bridge. As a result, we are able to stabilize businesses that employ minimum wage workers while saving them and tax payers tens of billions of dollars each in unused supports like food stamps, EITC, public assistance (see the 2014 Economic Policy Institute Minimum Wage Report) and retraining costs. See Looking Up at the Bottom Line for greater detail.
We urge you to urge the U.S. Congress to review this novel approach and simply tweak the Federal Minimum Wage established under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Such a response will solve the minimum wage conundrum once and for all time, prevent economic homelessness and stimulate the national housing industry by creating needed, affordable housing for workers who like Henry Ford’s employees, will then be able to afford the product that they need most.
June 2014- Richard R. Troxell attended The White House Summit on Working Families
Thanks to each of the donors and to Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid for helping send Richard to Washington to discuss the Universal Living Wage as a common sense alternative to the current one-size-fits-all approach being touted by the Administration.
Thanks for your support!
2014 Tax Day- ULW National Day of Action
Richard Troxell with ‘House the Homeless’ says businesses wind up harming themselves when they are stingy with their workers pay, they wind up hurting their business, “What we’re suggesting is embrace the living wage, they will empower these minimum wage workers to be able to sustain themselves and not be a detriment to any other business.” Listen to the interview here.
Great progress on the Homecoming Bronze Statue. Please click to see two videos of world-renowned Sculptor, Timothy Schmalz work and speak about the project.
By Richard R. Troxell
Read below or download your copy here (right click and save!)
Sue Watlov-Phillips and Professor Edgar Chan have made invaluable contributions to this effort call for the Prevention of Homelessness. This whitepaper examines homelessness in terms of poverty and specifically Livable Incomes for those who can work (Universal Living Wage) and fixing the National Supplemental Security Income (SSI system) for those who cannot work. I have created a pathway for these goals to be achieved. We have tried to stress the value of all people and all work. The positive economic benefit to business and taxpayers is emphasized.
The whitepaper also looks at the concept/tenet: Discharge No One Into Homelessness. This is the idea that at no time do we know as much about an individual as when they enter one of our institutions (i.e., Hospital, Prison, Military, Foster Care, Mental Health Facilities etc.). Therefore, we should begin to prepare for their eventual discharge into a safe housing environment immediately. This will also prevent homelessness. The whitepaper shakes out this concept by looking at a pragmatic example… the Prison Institution (from two perspectives).
An Open Letter to President Obama and the U.S. Congress
Not since 1938 following the Great Depression and the creation of the Federal Minimum Wage, FMW, has our nation had as great an opportunity to create income equality and simultaneously stabilize our small businesses.
What people do not understand is that as opposed to when I was a young lad, we now have people who work a full 40 hour a week job but, in spite of that, are becoming homeless. Incredible! The basic opportunity to chase the American Dream has vaporized. Because the FMW was never linked to any economic standard, the cost of the most expensive item in the budget of every single American, housing, has now moved beyond the reach of every hard working minimum wage worker. A full time minimum wage worker simply cannot afford a one room, efficiency/studio, apartment.
We are a nation of a thousand plus economies. Everyone knows that the cost to live in Biloxi, MS, is not the same as it is to live in Santa Cruz, CA, or Washington, D.C., or New York City. One size does not fit all whether it is $7.25 per hour or $9.00 per hour. The federal minimum wage must relate to the minimum cost of housing where a person lives! In this fashion, if a person works 40 hours of work, then that full-time, minimum wage worker will not become homeless due to economics. This will end homelessness for over 1,000,000 minimum wage workers. Think of the tax savings. Small businesses that rely on these workers may finally be able to address their start up failure rate of 64% after 4 years and 90% after 5 years by no longer having to rely on destabilized workers. Carpe Diem!
See our formula and supporting arguments at www.UniveralLivingWage.org
2013 Thermal Underwear Drive Underway
Austin residents and others are encouraged to donate winter clothing items and participate in House the Homeless’ Thermal Underwear Drive. The Thermal Underwear Drive is an annual event which has successfully raised money and clothing for people suffering from homelessness. House the Homeless Founder Richard R. Troxell — and sidekick “Homie” — spoke with Austin’s Fox 7. Please give generously.
2013 Sunrise Service
6/22/12— Women experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable. Last week Valerie Godoy, a woman experiencing homelessness, was brutally murdered in Austin. There have been no arrests. Click here to add your name to a petition to bring a “women only” shelter in Austin. UPDATE 11/19/2012: We’ve reached over 3,500 paper and digital signatures. Thank you!
House the Homeless president, Richard R. Troxell, lays out a jobs plan to put millions of Americans back to work; jumpstart the construction industry building housing for the newly-employed; stimulate the economy through a surge in consumer spending; delay, reduce, and restructure foreclosures; while at the same time reducing taxes and subsidies from the federal government to the unemployed. Impossible? No! It’s actually quite realistic. Check out the plan here.
Support to End Economic Homelessness Grows
As our campaign to put a copy of our book into the hands of each member of the U.S. Congress and all governors continues, favorable responses abound. The responding political dignitaries include:
Gov. Terry E. Branstad (IA)
Gov. Scott Walker (WI)
Gov. John W. Hickenlooper (CO)
Gov. Steven L. Beshear (KY)
Gov. Deval L. Patrick (MA)
Gov. Brian Sandoval (NV)
Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee (RI)
Gov. Bill Haslam (TN)
Gov. Gary R. Herbert (UT)
Gov. Sean Parnell (AK)
Gov. Rick Snyder (MI)
Sen. Kelly A. Ayotte (NH)
Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (ME)
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (HI)
Sen. Joe Manchin lll (WV)
Sen. Michael B. Enzi (WY)
Sen. Marco Rubio (FL)
Sen. Bob Corker (TN)
Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN)
Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY)
Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL)
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (OH)
Rep. James Lankford (OK)
Rep. Lamar Smith (TX)
Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez (TX)
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX)
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT)
Rep. Mo Brooks (AL)
You can see more letters of support here.
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Richard R. Troxell here. As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book about my life’s work. I have great news, Looking Up At The Bottom Line: The Struggle For The Living Wage! was released on Friday, October 1st, 2010. It not only tells my story and the story of the working poor; but most importantly, it launches the platform for the Universal Living Wage (ULW).
Enactment of the Universal Living Wage will end Homelessness for over 1,000,000 minimum wage workers. At the same time, it will prevent economic homelessness for all 10.1 million minimum wage workers.
You can buy my book on Amazon right here. All proceeds go to support efforts to end economic homelessness.
My book is an intense personal, political, and educational guide through the last 30 years of homelessness in America. I returned from Viet Nam confused and homeless. Wandering across America, I landed in Philadelphia. I was lucky. I met Max Weiner, a pioneer in consumer activism. After several years of pain, he changed my life.
My early years as an advocate for consumer’s rights and fighting foreclosures got me off the streets and led me to a life-long career with Legal Aid. I began refurbishing abandoned houses only to have them threatened by a declining economy and drug lords. So, I fought for and created Mobile Mini-Police Stations, which saved my neighborhood and are still in use today in several cities. Life taught me that the solutions to hard problems lie in the problems themselves.
In 1989, I founded the non-profit House the Homeless (HtH). I challenged a No Camping Ordinance for 5 years that criminalized the homeless for their economic circumstances by fining them $500 for sleeping outdoors. House the Homeless posed the question: Jail the homeless or job train them?
When Bergstrom Air Base was repurposed to become an airport, I tried to activate the McKinney Act, which allows federal property that is no longer in use or underutilized to be used for people experiencing homelessness. Again, in spite of a law to support my efforts, the hospital that worked for the military was deemed unsuitable for the homeless.
Do you know the primary cause of homelessness is the minimum wage? According to the US Conference of Mayors, a person working 40 hours a week, at a minimum wage of $7.25, doesn’t have enough money to afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.
Again, “the problem points to the solution.” Looking Up At The Bottom Line offers the solution: The Universal Living Wage (ULW). The ULW adjusts the federal minimum wage, and indexes it to the local cost of housing throughout the US. By doing so, any person who works 40 hours a week is able to afford basic rental housing (including utilities) along with food and clothing.
Please buy my book and let everyone know that there is an answer to economic homelessness. Enactment of the Universal Living Wage will conservatively end economic homelessness for over 1,000,000 people and prevent economic homelessness for all 10.1 million minimum wage workers.
It starts with purchasing Looking Up At The Bottom Line. We encourage you to purchase a copy for your local library or shelter — vital resources for the economic homeless.
Thanks for buying my book and for being a part of ending economic homelessness.